With travel restrictions lifted, Byron and his entourage– Amy Winehouse, Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette –surprised us with a visit and proceeded to preside over NYLI’s Favorite Poem Contest….

Before we get to the lucky winners , NYLI staff and celebrity friends extend their gratitude to all who participated. We were introduced to a variety of poems — and enjoyed hearing the funny and sometimes moving reasons why these poems were favorites….

We invite our blog readers to click away on the poem links — you may soon discover a new favorite — or revisit an old rhyming friend….

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

I love this poem because it was introduced to me as a teenager while reading the classic The Outsiders. The theme is the transience of the natural world. Originally, I thought this poem used the metaphor of Autumn colors, but then a friend suggested it was about forsythia which blooms in the early spring. Now, whenever I see that unmistakable golden yellow of the forsythia, I think of this poem and feel the hope and optimism that Spring is here….

— submitted by Patricia Barbone

Near Midnight by Joe Salerno

My favorite poem is this one written by my friend’s father, Joe Salerno. The poem perfectly conveys the late night sounds of a city shutting down for the evening and that moment when we let go at the end of the day and give in to sleep. In the last few lines, all of the imagery and feeling of that moment is intertwined with a Buddhist principle: desire causes suffering but we can liberate ourselves through the extinguishment of desire. I go back to this poem when I feel overwhelmed by life’s little tasks; it gives me a sense of calm and reminds me that none of it really matters.

–submitted by Teresa Gorman

The Man Who Boozes – An Irish Poem of Unknown Origin

When I was a child my father used to read to me from The Best Loved Poems of the American People. One of his favorites was A Man Who Boozes. It’s a silly poem but the last line always made him laugh. I like this poem because of the happy memories it evokes of my father reading to me.

–submitted by Jill Gray

Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My favorite poem is Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha. My grandfather recited it and my sisters and I wondered about the mysterious lake. Years later, my husband took me home to Superior, Wisconsin. Taking in his favorite haunts, I experience the shining Big-Sea-Water for myself!

–submitted by Ann Green

Dante’s Inferno as translated by Mary Jo Bang

I have so many favorite poems that I can’t just pick one, but I have been enjoying a new “modernized” translation of Dante’s Inferno by Mary Jo Bang. In Canto III, the poet Virgil Describes the souls stuck at the entrance of Hell: “They blend together with that band of vile angels/Who didn’t rebel but who also didn’t stand with God, But only for themselves, in selfishness./ To preserve its beauty, Heaven threw them out./ Deepest Hell doesn’t want them, since the truly wicked /Would be able to gloat, ‘We’re worse…'”

A poem for Dante’s time and ours.

—Submitted by Ellen Kaufman

Coming Home by Mary Oliver

This poem is special to both my husband & myself. Jim & I have been going to Provincetown at least once a year for many years. The poem sums up how we feel about this unique place where generations of queer folks have felt safe. The poet expresses many of the things that are true for us, and I am sure, countless others. My daughter read it at our recent marriage. The most poignant lines for me are: “And what we see is a world that cannot cherish us, but which we cherish”. Win or not, I hope others will come to cherish this work.

—submitted by Joseph Lanz

This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin

English poet & librarian Philip Larkin’s misanthropic take on original sin contrasts with his lyrical verse. His technical skill with meter and rhyme make the ugly curmudgeonly uncle’s advice palatable and relatable. And it is short — & there’s a lot to be said for that !

–submitted by Rachael H. Moller

Who Hath a Book by Wilbur D. Nesbit

This is my favorite because in third grade, we each need to memorize a poem to recite, and this is mine !

—submitted by Karen Oesterle

I Had But Fifty Cents

I’m submitting this as it was in one of mother’s favorite books, The Best Loved Poems of the American People. Whenever she wanted a belly laugh she recited this for us, her seven children!

—submitted by Daniel Pelletier

Anger’s Freeing Power by Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith is certainly my favorite poet, but it would be impossible to name a favorite. If having to choose one, it would be Anger’s Freeing Power because it paints in vivid strokes a mopey raven being at last prodded into freeing himself by the power of his own peevishness, but at the same time saddened it took anger to give the push !

—Submitted by Nicholas Perugini

This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

We read this at school. I want to say in sixth grade. I think it was the first time I saw a poem that didn’t rhyme. It was just a small poem about a simple thing but it seemed very elegant to me. Or maybe I just often ate the last plum at home.

—submitted by Stacey Pilson

The Giver (For Berdis) by James Baldwin

I am compelled to say that one of my favorite all time poets is James Baldwin. And my favorite of his poems is The Giver (For Berdis) because of its meaning. I believe we all have the power to give unconditionally but often times we may fall short. Whether that gift is time, finances, wisdom, emotional or physical support or an ear to just listen — the list is endless. We often wonder — will my act of kindness make a change? As I grow older & observe many things I’ve given throughout my life, I’ve come to know that LOVE is the only gift that is endless!

—submitted by Shawn C. Watts-Bey

It Couldn’t Be Done by Edgar Albert Guest

Why is this my favorite? Well, I’ve been quoting snatches of it to myself for decades each time I have faced a big challenge or had episodes of self doubt.

—Submitted by Kimberly Wilson

Splendour in the Grass by William Wordsworth

Splendour in the Grass, of course! … because it’s the poem quoted by Natalie Wood’s character Wilma Dean in my favorite movie– Splendor in the Grass

—-submitted by Tina Zoccali

And here are the NYLI Staff picks —

Lucy Curci-Gonzalez chose Frost’s Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening because it captures taking a moment of introspection while doing something ordinary and is a poem that her entire family can recite!

Pheobe Hurtte’s favorite, I’m flattered to say, is my ferry poem, because, as Pheobe succinctly states, “You think of the ride as you read the poem!”

Emily Dickinson’s I’m Nobody, Who Are You speaks to Martha Pascual as she’d rather not be in the bog !

Our own Comic Con aficionado Ellyssa Valenti Kroski picked W.B. Yeats’ Adhe Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, not only because of its romantic nature but because she first heard if referenced in one her favorite films dystopian Equilibrium. Ellyssa found it so intriguing that she HAD to look it up…. as librarians, we love when that happens !

My own fave is Byron‘s When We Two Parted — it’s just the best breakup poem ever!

Martha (“You know I’m no Good”) Pascual, Pheobe (“Queen of the Nile”) Hurtte, Emily (“Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know”) Moog & Lucy (“Let them eat Cake”) Curci Gonzalez participate in drawing the winner…..

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the lucky winners who had their names picked from a hat by Cleopatra…

Patricia Barbone

Teresa Gorman

Nicholas Perugini

My NYLI colleagues & I enjoyed reading a great selection of poetry & hearing your thoughts on why they were are so loved . Best wishes for a Happy Spring & Poetry Month to all our favorite librarians !